By Dr. Diana Gaviria, Health Officer, and Christina Jackson, Health Promotions Coordinator, Berkeley County (WV) Health Department
On December 8, 2015, Diana Gaviria and Christina Jackson represented the Eastern Panhandle HPV Prevention Project at the West Virginia HPV Summit in Charleston. The summit, presented by the West Virginia Immunization Network, brought together stakeholders from around the state to discuss the critical importance of increasing HPV vaccination in West Virginia. Speakers included Dr. Sherri Young, Physician Director of the Division of Immunization Services, and Melinda Wharton, MD, MPH, Director, Immunization Services Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC. The broad spectrum of attendees represented many sectors, including healthcare, public health, insurance providers, academic institutions, pharmaceutical industry, and advocacy groups.
During facilitated discussions, attendees described assets, barriers, and challenges that affect HPV vaccination in West Virginia and identified strategies for improvement that will be incorporated into a State HPV Vaccination Plan of Action. Many of the challenges and priorities that were identified were very similar to those that were identified by the participants in the Eastern Panhandle HPV Summit convened by the Eastern Panhandle HPV Prevention Project in May 2015, including improved provider and public education about the cancer prevention benefits of HPV vaccination, increased use of reminder systems in clinical practice, and immunization clinics in alternative sites.
The summit provided a great opportunity to network and to share the strategies used by the Eastern Panhandle project such as engagement of medical and nursing students, provider education meetings, and outreach to the community. Going forward, we hope to remain active in the statewide effort to reduce the burden of HPV-related disease.